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Here's why you should support Amendment 71

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Dear Editor:

I support the "Raise the Bar" Amendment 71 and here's why. Imagine a well-funded special-interest group spending millions of dollars to amend the Colorado constitution to benefit an out-of-state corporation. Ridiculous? Well, this is exactly what happened in 2014 when a Rhode Island gaming corporation spent millions trying to pass Amendment 68, which would have permitted casino gambling at horse racetracks in three Colorado counties. The amendment would have benefited one out-of-state corporation, but hurt Colorado's homegrown gaming industry. The amendment failed, but the issue remains.

Do we want our state constitution to be easy to manipulate by deep-pocket, out of state special interest groups? Colorado's constitution is among the easiest state constitutions to amend. In 140 years of statehood, our state constitution has been amended more than 150 times. That is because Colorado requires fewer signatures than any other state to get on the statewide ballot, the 98,492 threshold reflecting 5 percent of those casting ballots for Colorado's secretary of state. Also, there is no requirement that petition signatures be gathered throughout the state. Currently, the majority of petition signatures are gathered in the Denver and Boulder areas, leaving rural Coloradans without a voice. Once on the statewide ballot, it requires only a simple majority to amend our state constitution. Many other states require a 60 percent popular majority to amend their constitutions.

Amendment 71 would require petition signatures to reflect 2 percent of the registered voters in each of the state's 35 senate districts and would require a 55 percent popular vote to pass. These changes would protect Coloradans from special interest groups who use citizens' initiatives to advance their causes. Once cemented into our constitution, these policies are difficult to update or remove because of the permanency enshrined in our state's foundational document. Vote "YES" on Amendment 71.

Megan Starr
Grand Junction

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